Forgotten Greens of Scotland
Forgotten Greens of Scotland

 The Sauchope Links

which would eventually become the municipal course at Crail

The Sauchope links became a municipal course in the 1920s after all the members of the Crail golfing society had ceased to use it, playing their golf along the road at Balcomie from 1895, however, much of the information which follows will be duplicated under Crail Golfing Society in the existing club's section of this site. 

Sauchope Links. The Gazetteer of Scotland published in 1832 states that there was a golf club in Crail in 1760, playing on part of the farm at Sauchope under a dual rights of occupancy arrangement – golfing and grazing. However no other records have been found.

 In 1786 the Crail Golfing Society was formed, playing over a course at Sauchope. The Society was dissolved in 1812 and not re-established until 1824. It is not known what happened to the links during this period, but a Society minute of 1842 mentions an 8-hole course at Sauchope. There was another moratorium in the Society’s activities with no competitions being played from 1849 until 1856, when the Society played its first competition over Balcomie Links. Again, there are no records of a course there at that time, but Balcomie Castle was owned by Sir Charles Erskine of Cambo who had a course on his primary estate, Cambo, and who, in addition to being one of the foundationers of the Society, was also a Captain of the R & A. Being such a keen golfer, it is a reasonable assumption that he also had a course laid out at Balcomie and it was on this that the Society played. However, it continued to play over the Sauchope course until 1859 when there was yet another break until 1872, when it again resumed playing with the first competition played over Sauchope.


In 1872 the East Neuk o’ Fife Golf Club, and in 1880 the Crail Thistle Golf Club were formed, both playing over the Sauchope course.


In 1890, the course was extended to one of 18 holes. “The two golfing clubs of Crail, acting in conjunction with the Town Council, have begun to improve and extend the present course on Sauchope Links to the East. Ten holes will be added, while the cart tracks and other objectionable features are to be removed. Mr George Duncan, London, is also to restore and repair the Castle Yard cliff in Crail, under the direction of Messrs Leslie & Reid C.E. Edinburgh. The top of the cliff adjoins the old Castle yard grounds, formerly occupied by King David II., and the promenade round it is to be made safe by a railing.” (Glasgow Herald April 9th 1890)  In 1894, the East Neuk o’ Fife Club amalgamated with the Crail Golfing Society, and the new club moved to its newly laid out home at Balcomie. This meant that there was much less activity on the Sauchope course, although the local inhabitants still had their historical right to play.

In 1904 the course was improved, and continued in use until the onset of WW1 when it fell into disuse. After the war, the council refurbished the course and in 1931 took full rights of ownership, reducing it to a short-hole course. Clearly this was more of an attraction to visitors, rather than a serious golfing venue for the local population. In the early days of WW2, the links were requisitioned by the Admiralty as part of a naval station.

After the war, the council tried to regain possession of the links, but in 1949 it was decided that the damage resulting from the naval station was so extensive that it would be too costly to restore the site as a golf course, and in 1953 it was opened as a caravan park.

Sauchope Time Line


The inhabitants of the Royal Burgh Of Crail played golf over Sauchope links long before the formation of the society in 1786, and they claimed that by immemorial possession they had acquired a servitude of golfing over the links.


1786 Formation Of Crail Golfing Society, playing at Sauchope links.


1812 Crail dissolved after 26 years. What happened to Sauchope Links ?


1815 Attempt to re-establish Crail Golfing Society unsuccessful.


1824 Crail re-established. Presumeably, At Sauchope, as Balcomie has not been laid out yet.


1842 Minute mentions number of holes at Sauchope. 8 holes.


1849 Club is dissolved again or at least the meetings stopped.


1856 Meetings are resumed and Crail move from Sauchope to Balcomie Links. But are they still

         Playing at Sauchope Links too. Also, why are they playing at Balcomie since it was not                 laid out and opened until 1895 ( Tom Morris ). I suspect that a course existed near to                     Balcomie House but No one in the club or in the minutes seems to know about this.


1859 Another break in the club’s activities


1872 Society re-established again and first competition played on Sauchope Links              

        ( Not Balcomie )  East Neuk Of Fife Golf Club formed. Did they play at Sauchope.

        Very co-incidental that the society was re-formed along with the East Neuk Starting. We                 have a copy of the formation minutes.


1878 It was agreed to play competitions alternately at Sauchope and Balcomie House.


1880. Formation of Crail Thistle club. A boys club ? We have copy of minutes to 1887. Playing               on Sauchope Links. When did this club fold.


1890  April. East Neuk and Crail clubs both improve and extend Sauchope to 18 holes.


1894  East Neuk Amalgamate with Crail


1895 After the opening of Balcomie golf course in 1895, there was less play on Sauchope.  The               Inhabitants right to play there is now chiefly of historical interest. 


1903  Sauchope still in use. Is it an 18 holes or 9 holes. ?


1904  Sauchope improved


1928  Crail Council re-instate Sauchope Links as a municipal course, But from when ? W.W.1. ?


1931 .  The town council Purchased Sauchope in 1931 and have full rights of ownership. It is                        now Used as a short hole course.


1932  Newspaper article, Sauchope, cheapest in Scotland, so still owned by council as a golf                     course  It was probably still in use up to 1939 when the Admiralty took it over.


1939 / 1940 Admiralty requisition the links as part of a naval station. 


1942  Compensation was fixed by the admiralty for the requisition of the links.


1947   Crail is trying to regain possession of the links back from the admiralty.


1949    Sauchope for camping. Dundee courier December 1949. The course has sustained too                    much Damage during the occupation of the naval station and would be too costly to bring              back as a golf course.


1953     Crail council start a caravan park at Sauchope links.



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